Here is a link to a review of my novel, ‘The Most Distant Way.’ The review is the work of Marlene Lee author of ‘The Absent Woman’ and ‘Rebecca’s Road.’ http://dactylreview.com/2013/11/18/the-most-distant-way-by-ewan-gault/
My début the novel, ‘The Most Distant Way’ has just been launched. To celebrate I’ve been watching youtube clips of ship and rocket launches. Unfortunately most of the rocket clips end up in terrible explosions …
Here are some sites on which you can buy the novel (some of them seem to only have hardbacks available):
It’s less than a month until my début novel, The Most Distant Way is published. The novel has already received a positive review in the award-winning printed journal, Gutter and has been praised by authors Zoe Strachan and Adharanand Finn. Here is what they’ve said:
“A gripping tale of two talented young British runners struggling to come to terms with the enigma of living and training in Kenya’s Rift Valley. You can almost taste the dirt on your teeth as they race by.”
- Adharanand Finn is an editor at The Guardian and feature writer for Runner’s World. His superb non-fiction book, Running with the Kenyans, won The Sunday Times Sports Book of the Year Award.
“The Most Distant Way is a taut, visceral novel that burns with tension. Gault is as good at conjuring the violence of political unrest as he is at exploring the root of the ambition that drives his characters towards self-discovery and self-destruction. An accomplished and compelling début.”
- Zoe Strachan is a critically acclaimed author. Her novels Negative Space, Spin Cycle and Ever Fallen in Love have won many literary prizes including The Betty Task Award.
The Gutter Magazine review:
“The UK has long fostered a rich tradition of hosting divisive public spectacles, but none can rightfully claim to have been quite so intrusive as London 2012. Even the most committed hermits could never have hoped to out-run the daily waves of scandal and incompetence – the overzealous brand protection, the empty seats, and, during the build-up, a terrifying glimpse at the privatised future, courtesy of G4S and thirty unpaid workers made to sleep under London Bridge. It was easy (and in some cases wholly correct) to get caught up in all that anger, but it did drag the spotlight off one group of individuals who had some pretty pressing concerns of their own. They’re called athletes, and many of them had to sacrifice what could be termed an even vaguely normal lifestyle to reach the stage they did.
It’s these incredible stories so forced onto the periphery that Ewan Gault tackles in his debut novel The Most Distant Way. Set some years before the games themselves, the book follows Kirsten and Mike, two young long-distance runners in training with hopes of being selected for Team GB. Kirsten’s father, who works as Mike’s coach, has sent the pair to Kenya to train at one of the high-altitude facilities that allegedly help to produce the likes of David Rudisha, Geoffrey Mutai, and numerous other world record holders. The pair are approaching the end of their stay, with a few more days left at the facility before a gruelling trip back to Glasgow, first via Mombassa, and then Nairobi. The upcoming election has upped tensions in the country, with mobs already roaming the suburbs, and the police all but happy to violently suppress anything that could be conceived as a threat. On top of that, Mike and Kirsten are clearly both experiencing growing pains – pains that have exacerbated themselves overtime, having been so rudely forced out of the regular teenage routine.
The resulting novel deconstructs the hygienic myths that characterise the games, and the fantasy of sheer, undeterred, superhuman endeavour. The first-person narrative switches between the two with each chapter, and it’s not long before we realise how delightfully flawed both characters are. That said, one of Gault’s major achievements here is the creation of narratives delivered in such a naturalised fashion that we as readers initially think nothing of Kirsten and Mike’s often-unhinged behaviour – whether it’s Kirsten getting debilitatingly stoned in the middle of hyena country, or Mike taking an ice bath in a wheelie bin stolen off his neighbour.
The contrast between the two creates a fascinating tension. Kirsten is traumatised both by the violence that surrounds her in Kenya, and the violence of her past, which includes a father ruthless enough to bully his own daughter if it takes her any closer to the podium. Mike meanwhile struggles to relate anything outside the experience of running, despite an obvious desire for Kirsten’s affections. He runs to affirm his own existence. Kirsten runs in an attempt to obliterate herself.
Ultimately, Gault’s work is an unflinching, painful study of the lives of young people striving for greatness, and an unveiling of the brutality that often lies beneath the surface, and its devastating consequences. The Most Distant Way is an effective exploration of the individual’s inability to reconcile their personal struggles with any kind of wider situation, be it their home-life, or the politics of a nation on the verge of collapse. The result is a powerful, unsettling comment on something not so far from home as may first appear.”
Last week I read an extract from my forthcoming novel, The Most Distant Way in the venerable surroundings of Blackwell’s in Oxford. I’ve always been pretty terrified by reading at events, but, as an English teacher, I get to read in front of groups of people quite a lot and I’m always pleasantly surprised by how involved even the most restless pupils become when listening to a well read story. A strangely reverential silence – often policed by the habitual pen tappers, desk drummers and farmyard animal imitators – can descend the moment a book is opened and a class realise they are going to be whisked away to a sandy bank by the Salinas River or a blasted Scottish heath. Reading these stories has given me the chance to appreciate the cadences of great writing, the importance of the right words in the right place, the dictum cited by Carver that “no iron can pierce the heart with such force as a full stop put in just the right place.”
So, I should have been fairly confident as I jogged past The Clarendon Building conscious, as ever when crossing this part of Broad Street, of the millions of books under the street in The Bodleian Library vaults. Blackwell’s was participating in the Books Are My Bag series of events that were going on in bookshops the length and breadth of Britain. Inside booksellers were dressed as their favourite novels while literary themed competitions were going on in various alcoves of the labyrinthine shop. The event seemed to be succeeding in getting large numbers of people into the shop, a good sight normally but not when you have to push through them all only to see the last of the afternoon’s readers being applauded.
One part of me was relieved. I had been working during the day and had done everything possible to arrive on time, and well, what will be will. Also, I had suddenly realise that despite all the reading I had been doing in the classroom, it was going to be much more terrifying to hear my voice reading my words. I remembered a famous author on the radio talking about teaching writing and saying that you could give someone singing lessons but you can’t give them a voice. Fortunately, the event was being organised by another Ewan, who helpfully got on the shop’s tanoy to say that there was one more reading taking place, and there, all of a sudden, I was.
It’s quite a disembodying experience when you’re up there. You know the novel well enough that you don’t really need down to read it and can keep your eyes up watching the audience, the customers, moving from one floor to the next, pausing to listen to your story before applauding and moving on to browse and possibly buy one of the 200,000 books that are stacked in the shelves around you.
Here’s an interview in which I talk about writing, running and ruminating when in distant lands.
On Wednesday the literary world woke to the sad news that Iain Banks had been diagnosed with terminal gall bladder cancer and had been told that he had less than a year to live. His website, which announced the news, quickly crashed under the weight of well-wishers seeking to leave messages of support.
Banks was my first literary hero. He was brought up in Inverclyde, a part of Scotland that both my parents call home, and, as a consequence, our house was full of his books. Between the ages of 14-16 I made my way through: Whit, The Bridge, The Wasp Factory, Walking on Broken Glass, Espedair Street and The Crow Road, books that suggested life was more terrifically terrifying than I had previously imagined. I was such a fan that I even tried some of his Science Fiction, a genre that my teenage self had, up until that point, disdained. Banks won me over, and I can remember making a costly bus journey after school to buy a copy of Excession on the day it was published.
On my first ever ‘date’ (a journey round the park benches of our small town) the girl that I was meeting turned up with a copy of The Bridge in her blazer pocket. In the comparing of favourite bands and authors and park benches that go on during first dates, Banks was a sure-fire hit. For the record I had a copy of Kelman’s short story collection The Burn in my blazer pocket; at that time I always carried a book, with the title just visible, in the hope that some imaginary bookish girl might ask me about it. In any case, the titles seemed like too much of a coincidence, and we resolved to meet again.
Skin, a short story I had published last month, was based on and around the Forth Road and Rail Bridge. It was impossible to write the story without thinking of The Bridge, the first Banks’ novel that I read and the one which remained my favourite.
I only had the chance to see Banks read once. I had just finished a Masters in Creative Writing and was doing a very good impression of Rimbaud or Bukowski or one of those writers as famous for their lifestyle as anything they put down on paper. I oozed disdain, wore clothes that hadn’t been washed for weeks, and looked at the world out of eyes that hadn’t seen sleep for days. Banks did not live up to my expectations of what a writer should be. He was genial, self-deprecating, genuinely funny and apparently quite clean. He was also clearly very committed to his work. I went home and changed some of my ideas, and some of my clothes.
I did however see Banks in a non-literary setting on a couple of occasions. Raw Spirit, Banks’ excellent search for the perfect dram, alerted me to the fact that we shared the affliction of being Greenock Morton supporters. I kept an eye out for him at matches. This week Morton have a couple of games that could determine whether they win the First Division title. It would be great if he could see the Ton win the league. I wish him all the best in the time he has left.
Gutter, an award winning journal dedicated to publishing the best in new Scottish writing, has just announced its list of contributors for their Spring issue. I’m delighted that my short story, ‘Skin,’ is to be included in what looks to be a very strong line up of writers.